News Release: Events, Research

Feb. 14,  2011

Predicting Lifespan Health Conference Focuses on Fetal Programming

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ATLANTA — The first Predicting Lifespan Health Conference, to be held Feb. 17-18 at Emory University, will focus on the fundamentals of fetal programming. Fetal programming is the process in which environmental influences alter the body’s structures and functions for life during prenatal development.

Led by the work of David Barker, emerging evidence suggests that chronic diseases of adult life, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, have their origin through fetal programming. That is, these diseases and others are initiated by adverse influences before birth.

The two-day conference is intended for postgraduates from a wide range of disciplines, including basic science, clinical science, anthropology, economics, nutrition and public health. Major topics will include fetal programming and the placenta, long-term cardiovascular disease and kidney function in low birth-weight babies, epigenetics and immunity, as well as postnatal influences from infant diet and growth patterns.

The conference will be led by David Barker, MD, PhD, FRS, professor of clinical epidemiology, University of Southampton, UK and Michelle Lampl, MD, PhD, associate director, Predictive Health Institute, Samuel C. Dobbs professor of anthropology, Emory University. Emory speakers include Victor Corces, PhD, Arts & Sciences Distinguished Professor of Biology. The roster includes speakers from Oregon Health & Science University, Queen’s University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of South Carolina.

Barker is the pioneer of the fetal origins hypothesis. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London for his work on fetal programming, and he lectures on maternal-fetal nutrition around the world. His research has paved the way for linking maternal-fetal nutrition and chronic diseases later in life such as diabetes, obesity and certain cancers. Barker received his doctorate from the University of Birmingham and his medical degree from the University of London. He is past president of the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland. He received the Royal Society Wellcome Gold medal in 1994, the Prince Mahidol Award in 2000, the Danone International Nutrition Award in 2005 and the Ipsen Foundation Prize. In 2006, he was awarded Commander of the British Empire (CBE).

Lampl was elected an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow in 2010. She is a biological anthropologist, with research focusing on human growth and development investigating the mechanisms of growth and influencing factors, both genetic and environmental. Lampl is co-director of the University’s strategic initiative for predictive health and associate director of the Predictive Health Institute and the Center for Health Discovery & Well Being. She has launched and is director of the University’s Human Health Program centered in the college and is on the faculty for the M2M graduate program.

One of the crosscutting initiatives in Emory's strategic plan, the Predictive Health Initiative includes faculty from medicine, public health and nursing, as well as anthropology, ethics, behavior, health policy, law, business and religion.

View the full agenda and registration information for the symposium online, or call 404-686-6194 to register. Cost: faculty, staff and non-Emory attendees, $50; students, $25.

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